The Hebrew language
Hebrew, a language from the Semitic language family, is both ancient and modern, holding a rich history and a vibrant contemporary presence.
It is one of the official languages of Israel and is used by Jewish communities in countries such as Australia, Canada, Germany, Palestine, the United Kingdom and the United States. The Hebrew language seen within the bible is known as Classical Hebrew. Classical Hebrew, now generally only used for prayer, then evolved into the language that we use today, known as Modern Hebrew. Unlike many European languages, Hebrew is written from right to left. Although learning the Hebrew alphabet can be challenging for English speakers, it is the pronunciation of certain sounds that often causes the most difficulties
Brief History of Origins:
- Ancient Roots: Hebrew dates back over 3,000 years, with its earliest written examples found in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
- Biblical Era: It was the language of the Israelites and the liturgical language of Judaism. Biblical Hebrew is found in the Hebrew Bible.
- Medieval Times: Hebrew was mainly used as a written liturgical language during Medieval times.
- Revival: In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Hebrew underwent a remarkable revival led by Eliezer Ben-Yehuda. It transitioned from a liturgical language to a spoken one, culminating in its establishment as an official language of the State of Israel.
Number of Speakers:
- Approximately 5 million people speak Hebrew as their first language.
- An additional 2 million speak it as a second language.
- It’s also studied worldwide by Jewish communities and students of religion and linguistics.
Where It Is an Official Language:
Hebrew is one of the two official languages of Israel, alongside Arabic.
Example of Text:
- Modern Hebrew: “שלום, עולם!” (Shalom, Olam!) translates to “Hello, World!” in English.
- Biblical Hebrew: “בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ” is the first verse of the Book of Genesis, meaning “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
Where It Is Used and How:
- Israel: Used in daily communication, government, education, media, and technology.
- Religious Context: Used in Jewish religious practices, including prayers and reading sacred texts.
- Cultural Productions: Hebrew literature, music, and film are significant in the global cultural scene.
- Diaspora: Jewish communities worldwide often use Hebrew for cultural and religious purposes.
Examples of English Words Used in Hebrew:
- Technological Terms: Words like “אינטרנט” (Internet) and “קומפיוטר” (computer) have been incorporated.
- Culinary Influence: Some food-related words, such as “סנדוויץ” (sandwich), are also used.
Hebrew Words Absorbed into English:
- Amen: Often used at the end of prayers in various religious traditions.
- Hallelujah: A term of praise and rejoicing.
- Sabbath: Referring to a day of rest, it comes from the Hebrew “Shabbat.”
- Chutzpah: A word meaning audacity or nerve.
Hebrew is a fascinating language that links the ancient and modern worlds. Its resurrection as a spoken language is an unprecedented linguistic phenomenon. The deep roots of Hebrew in religious, cultural, and daily life reflect its multifaceted identity, and its connections to English demonstrate the interrelatedness of global languages. Whether encountered in the synagogues, the bustling streets of Tel Aviv, or the pages of the Bible, Hebrew remains a living testament to a rich and enduring heritage.
At Brightlines, we only use Hebrew translators who have used Hebrew since birth. We offer translation services including voiceovers, production services and copywriting.
Our translation services - FAQ
Do you use native translators?
Yes, always. All our translators are native speakers and most are still resident in their native country. We pride ourselves on ensuring that all Brightlines’ translators are native. We do not accept applications from non-native candidates or allow them to register on our online recruitment database. All our translators are rigorously tested.
How long will the translations take?
The turnaround for the translation will depend on the word count. As a rough guide, assume that the translators can comfortably process about 2500 words of non-specialised text per day. Proofreading can effectively be completed on a basis of 4000-6000 words a day. Our minimum turnaround time is usually about three days, although it is possible to shorten this if you are in a rush for the final files and we will always be happy to discuss this with you.
What is the variation in your translators’ experience and qualifications? Are they native speakers? Will the cost increase if we use a more experienced translator?
All our translators have to go through a series of tests to make sure they are as good as they say they are, and only if they pass are they allowed to work for Brightlines. There is quite a range of experience and qualifications, but all translators have a minimum of five years’ experience. All translators translate into their mother-tongue without exception and are generally based in-country so they are up-to-date with the local language. We match translators with projects/clients depending on the subject matter, and most of our translators have industry experience in their speciality – there is no better experience than being immersed professionally in the industry they specialise in. Our costs are based on translator experience, speciality (i.e. medical, creative, scientific) and the language choice.
Which languages can you translate into?
We have an extensive database with hundreds of trusted and tested translators covering all commercial languages. If you cannot see the language or dialect you need please ask.
I don’t know the word count; can you base the quote on the number of pages?
Our pricing structure is based on a rate-per-word, but we can estimate from a page count. If we can’t see the source document then we would usually estimate between 300 – 500 words a page depending on the density of the text and the presence of photos and images.
Does the translation need to be proofread?
Brightlines is an ISO 9001:2015 certified company. This means that quality is safeguarded. We adhere to the “four-eyes principle” and translations are always checked by a second professional proofreader (who is not the translator). If the translation is for internal use and reference purposes only (i.e. not to be published, distributed or used in a court of law), or you simply don’t wish to have proofreading, we can remove the proofreading stage.